Fa­tal hit-and-run driver ar­rested; Merced po­lice say ex­cuse for flee­ing de­bunked

Merced Sun-Star (Saturday) - - News - BY VIKAAS SHANKER [email protected]­ced­sun­star.com

Merced po­lice Thurs­day ar­rested a lo­cal res­i­dent in a May hit-and-run col­li­sion that took the life of a 68-year-old Catheys Val­ley man.

Sean Ryan Lam­bertDiaz, 29, re­port­edly told au­thor­i­ties af­ter the May 13 col­li­sion that he fled the scene on the di­rec­tion of an­other in­di­vid­ual who was rob­bing and kid­nap­ping him, Sgt. Dan Dab­ney said.

“Based on sur­veil­lance video nearby and other mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, we were able to prove that no­body was in the ve­hi­cle with him,” Dab­ney said, not­ing it took sev­eral months for in­ves­ti­ga­tors to make the de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Joe Lang was in the area of R Street and Buena Vista Drive at about 2 a.m. when the 2009 Toy­ota Ta­coma Lam­bert-Diaz was driv­ing struck and killed him, po­lice say.

Lam­bert-Diaz re­port­edly left be­fore po­lice ar­rived, and Lang was pro­nounced dead at the scene, au­thor­i­ties said.

The Merced res­i­dent was booked into a Merced County jail on sus­pi­cion of vehicular man­slaugh­ter with gross neg­li­gence, and felony hit-and-run, ac­cord­ing to jail records. He was be­ing held Fri­day in lieu of $80,000 bond.

Dab­ney said 2018 was an ab­nor­mally bad year for fa­tal hit-and-run col­li­sions in Merced. There were 11 last year, up from three fa­tal hit-and-runs in 2017, Dab­ney said.

“I don’t re­mem­ber it ever be­ing this high,” Dab­ney said. “We want to stress the im­por­tance of stop­ping at the scene. It’s not worth catch­ing ad­di­tional charges. And it doesn’t mean you’re go­ing to au­to­mat­i­cally be found at fault.”

Pedes­tri­ans also should be vig­i­lant while cross­ing roads, Dab­ney said.

Po­lice also are in­ves­ti­gat­ing two other fa­tal hit-an­drun col­li­sions — one on Oct. 19 in the 900 block of W. Childs Av­enue, and the other on Dec. 28 at the in­ter­sec­tion of 18th and G streets, Dab­ney said.

Any­one with in­for­ma­tion can con­tact Dab­ney at 209-388-7719, Merced po­lice dis­patch at 209385-6905 or the tipster line at 209-385-4725. Anony­mous mes­sages can be sent by text by mes­sag­ing to the num­ber “TIP411,” or “847411,” and in­clud­ing the word “Comvip” as the text mes­sage keyword.

Sean Ryan Lam­bert-Diaz

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